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Fonds Level Description

Accession Number: 14-001

TITLE

Wallis family fonds. -- 1774-1895. -- 12 cm of textual documents.-- ca. 20 photographs.

BIOGRAPHY / HISTORY

(Biographical information copied from Trent University Archives newsletter "Archives News", Issue Number 48, January 2014: "The Wallis Family" by Janice Millard).

"The link between the two [Wallis family and Forbes family] is Louisa Forbes who became Mrs. James Wallis. Louisa was the mother of well-known Peterborough-born artist and sculptor Katherine Wallis and Louisa’s father was Capt. Robert Miller/Millar Forbes.

Capt. Robert Miller Forbes had a distinguished career in the British Navy. It was, however, marred by an incident in 1798. Robert caused his ship commander, Capt. Lord Henry Paulet, later Earl St. Vincent, to be court martialed. Paulet apparently struck the then Lieutenant Forbes while Forbes was on duty on their ship – the Thalia. Paulet lost the case - but soon after he was given clemency, re-instated, and in 1819 became a Vice-Admiral. Robert Miller did not fare as well. In a transcribed letter he says that “he became the object of the most cruel and vindictive persecution… that has proved a barrier to his professional progress thro’ the mis-representations of that distinguished officer.”

After the Napoleonic Wars Robert Forbes, along with a number of ex-British military personnel, took their families and settled in France. Robert’s first child, Louisa, was born in Avranches, France. There is a watercolour in our new donation of the Church where Louisa was christened. It is likely by Katherine Wallis. The Forbes family moved around in Europe and sons were born in St. Servan Sur Merin Brittany, France. Finally the family moved to Peterborough.

Robert Forbes had an even more well-known brother – Charles John Forbes. Charles was in both the British Navy and the British Army. While in the Navy, Charles was present at the Battle of the Nile (also called the Battle of Aboukir) where Nelson defeated the French Navy. Another person at Aboukir was Charles Rubidge. Perhaps Charles Forbes and Charles Rubidge reminisced together about old battles.

While in the British Army, Charles Forbes was present for the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Our donation contains a letter written 29 Jan. 1815 on board H.M.S. Alceste, off Cat Island (near New Orleans), and sent to James Cobb, Secretary, East India Company (a cousin). In the letter Charles says that the information given to the Admiral was “fallacious” and that unlike what they had been led to believe, no “settlers of Louisiana and the Floridas” flocked to join the British cause and hence they had insufficient troops for the encounter with the Americans. It’s interesting to note that even by the end of January, Charles did not know that a treaty to end the War had been signed.

Charles had two separate enlistment periods with the British Army. Like his brother, he retired when the Napoleonic Wars were over and lived in Europe, but a few years later he re-enlisted in the Army. In 1824 he worked for the Commissariat in Nova Scotia and in 1825 he went to Montreal and stayed for 8 years. He was then posted to Jamaica and, like many Europeans who lived in the tropics, became ill. He briefly to went to England and then finally retired at half pay back in Quebec.

While posted in Quebec he acted as Commissary General for the Army and ensured there were supplies for the engineers and workers who were building canals in the Montreal region. While he was there he purchased land in the village of Carillon, on the Ottawa River just south of Lachute, Quebec, in what is now the Argenteuil Region of Quebec.

There he built a wonderful house called “Bellevue”. In our newly acquired scrapbook of Louisa Forbes there is a sketch of that house. Charles was known far and wide for his hospitality and many important people would visit him – including the Governors General.

Another well-known owner of land in the area was Sidney Robert Bellingham - nephew of Thomas A. Stewart. Sidney was very interested in politics and played a role in the 1837 rebellion – as did the British veteran Charles John Forbes."

SCOPE AND CONTENT

Fonds is comprised of three bound volumes of correspondence, sketches, paintings, diaries, receipts, newspaper clippings, deeds, baptismal and marriage records, family trees, and scrapbooks pertaining to the Wallis family. Included also are several documents pertaining to the Forbes family, related to the Wallis family through marriage. The Peterborough-born sculptress Katherine E. Wallis (1860-1957), whose papers are located in Trent University Archives, was a member of the Wallis family.
The volume spines are inscribed as follows:
- Papers of Louisa Charles John Mary and Adah Wallis 1854-1882 (Vol. I);
- Papers of Louisa Charles John Mary and Adah Wallis 1883-1895 (Vol. II);
- Captain R.M. Forbes, R.N. 1774-1846 and Family.
Fonds is also comprised of typed transcriptions of some of the items; these are located as received within the volumes.

NOTES

Custodial History: Fonds was in the custody of Col. Hugh Wallis of Montreal before being handed over to Gail H. Corbett for her private research purposes some years ago. Col. Wallis expressed his intention to Ms. Corbett that the materials be donated to Trent University Archives after she had finished using them. Gail H. Corbett delivered the materials to Trent University Archives in December 2013.

Condition: The original documents have been bound into three volumes; in some instances the text is inaccessible along the bound edge. Some documents are glued onto volume pages. Many items are fragile. Handle with care.

Immediate Source: Fonds acquired from Gail H. Corbett in December 2013.

Restrictions: N

Related fonds: 69-002

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